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A R T I C L E S* &* S P E E C H E S

by Amira Elgan

Get Real is a column on how to eliminate the artificial in your life. Processed food on our tables, unnatural chemicals in our homes and unhealthy behaviors in our lives weaken us and degrade our quality of life. This column is designed to give you bite size bits of helpful and relevant information about good food, balanced nutrition and healthy organic living. No matter who you are or what you do, time is precious. With your busy schedule in mind, Get Real reminds you to keep it real -- to focus on what makes it possible for you to reach your goals, enjoy your loved ones and live your life the way you want to.

Real Success

How much time do we spend on our careers, and how much on our health?

Succeeding professionally in today’s corporate world can bring us vast satisfaction, a sense of achievement and all the benefits of earning a good income. But only when we optimize our mental and physical health can we experience true success, real prosperity.

Health means different things to different people. And, while health is different for each of us because of our varying circumstances, we all have the ability to make the best lifestyle choices available to us.

Everything has an impact on our physical and mental health -- what and how we eat and drink, how much sleep we get, how often we exercise, what kind of job we do, whether or not we love our careers, how we cope with stress, our personal and professional relationships, the toxicity of the products we buy—there is no end to it.

There are many factors beyond our control that affect our health. But what we can control, such as how we exercise, what we eat and how we deal with stress are the most important factors.

The Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines food as "any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb to maintain life and growth." That's a good definition. So much of what we eat is not real food but synthetic, toxic laden and machine-manufactured fake foods that contribute to obesity, diabetes, cancer and many other maladies.

Read the ingredients of most packaged products in conventional grocery stores, and you'll see industrial non-food mixed in with actual food -- and some products containing no food at all. They’re almost completely void of nutritious substances required by our bodies to maintain life and growth. These non-food ingredients can do three things: 1) replace and displace actual food, leaving you with a nutrition deficit at the end of the day; 2) boost your overall caloric intake to above a sustainable, healthy level; or 3) cause active harm to your body (pesticides, artificial color, trans fats, etc.). Many non-food ingredients do all three.

Lifestyle diseases don’t develop overnight. By the time we begin to suffer the symptoms, they have been developing for years or even decades. In fact, the moment we start eating junk food during childhood, our organs and vital systems begin to suffer quietly. Although our bodies are incredibly resilient and self healing, years of abuse -- usually poor eating habits and sedentary life styles -- eventually manifest in growing ill health that may eventually include obesity, diabetes, heart disease or cancer.

Inadequate intake of vegetables, fruit, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds in our diet is exacerbated by the fact that we displace them with junk food that is over processed and laden with saturated fat, trans fat, salt, sugar, artificial ingredients, chemicals and pesticides.

Even our judgment, our ability to think quickly and clearly, our physical skills, our physical and emotional conditions are highly affected by the food we eat and lifestyle choices we make. Leading an active life and eating well helps us optimize health, keep weight in check, decrease the risk of illness, increase mental sharpness, prolong life span and make us more energetic. It also keeps us looking young and fit. It helps us think more positively and be more optimistic, giving us the right frame of mind to be happier and more productive.

Studies have shown that people who maintain a healthy weight tend to earn more -- and people who lose weight see their career prospects grow.

It’s a matter of making health a top priority, of rethinking the way we do things and taking action to make the necessary lifestyle modifications.

Yes, career success is important. But make sure that climbing the corporate ladder isn't the only exercise you're getting. Take the time to exercise, eat right and keep balanced to really experience the true power of success and real prosperity.

Copyright© 2007 By Amira Elgan. All Rights Reserved.


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    Amira Elgan is a board-certified Holistic Health Counselor and Healthy Lifestyle Coach. She is accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and holds a certificate in Integrative Nutrition from Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City.

    Amira is also author and publisher of Vegetarian Organic Life, a popular electronic newsletter about healthy cooking and better living. She also teaches healthy cooking classes for Whole Foods Market's Salud! Cooking & Lifestyles School and Sur La Table Culinary Program. Amira is a former top manager of some of the premier dining establishments in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Hollywood, including the Mondrian, Bonaventure and Beverly Wilshire hotels, as well as catering manager for the University of California at Santa Barbara. She leads educational and motivational workshops on nutrition, cooking and healthy living. Amira has created innovative, healthy recipes for more than two decades. She is a yoga practitioner and fitness expert with a first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

    Amira’s mission is to help people transform their lives and enjoy long-lasting health, happiness and real prosperity. Amira Elgan has dedicated her life to healthy living and is passionate about sharing her knowledge, experience and expertise with those who want to lead a healthy lifestyle. Her life's work is to both inform and inspire people to live a healthy, balanced and happy life.

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